By The Editors
Here we go with another major source of pollution and serious negative health effects: e-waste, which-stands for electronic waste – also called e-scrap. Electronic waste may be defined as discarded computers (desktop, laptop, computer monitors, etc.), office electronic equipment (printers, scanners, fax machines, etc.), entertainment device electronics, mobile phones, television sets, refrigerators, and more. To make things easier and avoid long lists, we can safely say that e-waste is about anything that works with a cord or a battery — or it’s connected to something with a cord or battery (think for example computer mice, or keyboards).
As technology changes come by very rapidly in great acceleration-style, the amount of obsolete and discarded high tech material also grows, great acceleration-style, around the world. Most of it ends up in landfills or inciniretors along with all the very toxic stuff it contains: lead, cadmium, beriyllium, or brominated flame retardanta. It would be nice to think “recycle”. However, dropping off e-waste for recycling does not guarantee safe disposal. It may likely end up in China. India or parts of Africa, where it is used to extract the metals contained in it under extremely hazardous conditions, thus becoming a major source of environmental contamination and a serious threat to human health. Below you can see the global e-waste trail clearly summarized by Greenpeace International.
Leyla Acaroglu, a sustainability strategist based in Melbourne, Australia, wrote at the beginning of this month in the Opinion Pages of the New York Times Sunday Review that in Ghana, India and China “Children pile e-waste into giant mountains and burn it so they can extract the metals — copper wires, gold and silver threads — inside, which they sell to recycling merchants for only a few dollars.” And “In India, young boys smash computer batteries with mallets to recover cadmium, toxic flecks of which cover their hands and feet as they work. Women spend their days bent over baths of hot lead, “cooking” circuit boards so they can remove slivers of gold inside.”
Below is one of the “must-see” videos. – this is about Ghana, defined as an electronic wasteland.
It might take eons of time to sort these problems out, but in the mean time make sure to recycle your e-waste, and recycle all of it through an e-Stewards® Recycler.
As stated in the e-Stewards Initiative website “Without appropriate national and international legislation or enforcement in place in many regions, it is unfortunately left up to individual citizens, corporations, universities, cities – all of us – to figure out how to prevent the toxic materials in electronics from continuing to cause long term harm to human health and the environment, particularly in countries with developing economies.”